I often wish that I could copy the thoughts running through my brain – ready to paste into writing at a later date. But I can’t, so while I sit here under the dappled shade of bamboo I’ll put these thoughts into writing.
I’m sitting amongst a cluster of kaki limas, on a side street of a busy road. There is one Kaki Lima for Gado-Gado, one for Mie Ayam, and one for fresh juices. Despite the heat and pollution of the city, somehow this quiet corner is cooled by a gentle breeze.
I’m just finishing the last delicious mouthful of Gado-Gado, and the last sip of my dragon fruit juice. And although there is an Ibu eyeing me quietly, and the Gado-Gado man is looking a bit bemused, for the most part I’m fitting right in. Across from me are some students sitting in front of a big Islamic school, and at the end of the road is a line of lovely big houses.
Where am I? I’m in Jakarta, one of the biggest cities in the world.
At the start of 2014 I made a New Years resolution to relax more. It took me 12 months, but I think for the time being I finally got there. What makes me think this? Well, last night I moved home for the 4th time in a month – and I’m feeling pretty calm about it all.
In late December I moved from Bandung to Australia, carrying with me 17kg of excess luggage. You would think I’d be a pro packer by this stage, but no – there I was, 2 hours before departure, ripping my suitcase apart in the middle of the airport. I did make it home eventually (a gazillion dollars later…thanks AirAsia), but seriously, will I ever learn?
I finally managed to lug my sorry little self back to Bohara for one of the best Christmas’ that I can remember. And it felt like I’d never left. I slotted right back in, and just like that, Indonesia seemed like another world. But as Christmas rolled on by (waaaay too quickly), I started preparing myself to move back to Indonesia. And I wasn’t all that organised about it. I found myself applying for a visa at the very last minute, and packing almost as I was walking out the door.
But you know what? Everything worked out. My visa was ready on time, I boarded the plane on time, and I met up with my friend Katrina almost without planning it. In indonesia the national consensus seems to be that ‘everything will work out’. And I’m starting to believe it!
Together with Katrina I arrived in Bali for our (8 hour) stopover. And because we had made the effort to book the cheapest flight, it seemed silly to book into a hotel. So at 10pm on Saturday we found ourselves cozying up at an airport cafe for a delirious few hours of sleep (?).
Arriving in Jakarta early on Sunday morning we headed straight to Katrina’s accommodation in Semanggi. She had booked a little apartment on the 28th floor, and had invited me to stay with her for our first week. We made our way out to find some breakfast and coffee, and then spent the rest of the day quietly before what we knew was going to be a fairly exhausting week ahead.
So on Monday morning we woke up bright and early. I grabbed an Ojek (motorbike taxi thing), and Katrina grabbed a taxi. When I arrived at work…..the receptionist looked confused. Not. Comforting. At. All.
But it was ok – my supervisor was just late for work (classic Indonesia). Once she DID arrive I was put straight to work. I wouldn’t say I’ve been working ridiculously hard (there are definitely times when I’m literally twiddling my thumbs), but the program definitely worth my time. Mercy Corps FEED Mobile Program
Each morning I’ve been getting the bus to work. The Transjakarta bus service is fast, but seriously, when you see the buses you really have to wonder. A seat hanging on it’s hinges, and a door that won’t stop rattling seems to be the norm! But it’s actually one of my favourite parts of the day – I’m basically just so proud of myself that I can’t stop grinning smugly.
And every day at approximately 11:55am, someone will make the call ‘Ayo makan!” (Let’s eat). And considering how quickly everyone jumps up, it’s obvious they’ve all been waiting for someone to initiate lunch! And then they all discuss what they want to eat and where they want to eat it. It’s been amazing! With this gaggle of office workers I wander down back alleys, and end up at an oasis of delicious Indonesian food. I’ve had delicious veges, fresh fish, mussels, tempe, tofu…tumeric drinks and fresh coconut water. Oh, and amazing sambal. It’s kind of bizarre to sit amongst all these professionals, sitting down for lunch in a tiny little warung, down a tiny alley way that I would never have walked down in the first place.
From the back alleys of Jakarta I’ve been to some lovely bars and cafes. And because it was cheers night last night I though it only appropriate to find myself some form of chocolate – so off I went to one of the most incredible French patisseries I’ve ever been too! Every type of sourdough imaginable was available, as well as a decadent chocolate tart. Together with a strong black coffee, it was a pretty perfect way to end the week.
And now it’s Saturday. I’m reluctant to leave this little alcove, but I’ve booked a Shiatsu massage at 1pm. And tonight I’ve been invited to someone’s surprise birthday party – and I’ve never even met the guy.
But I guess that’s what you do when you move to another country – you take very moment as it comes, step by step.
Ps. Apologies for the lack of photos – I’m writing this from my ipad and I kinda have no idea how to transfer photos from my camera to my ipad…helpful tips are welcome.